The first and most important tip I can give you is to seek recommendations from people that you know before taking your car in for repair. Word of mouth is a very powerful advertising medium and it works both ways, most people will take pleasure in telling you who to avoid if they have had a bad experience with someone in particular. Ask around your workplace, talk to family members, even your neighbors may be able to shed some light on who will look after your car well and not charge an arm and a leg for it.
Be wary of auto repair workshops that advertise cheap oil changes with a safety check of your vehicle thrown in for free. Sure there is honest mechanics out there that are genuinely concerned for your safety and don’t want to see you driving an unsafe car but there is also some out there that use this tactic to first get you to bring your car to them and then do their best to find thousands of dollars worth of work that just has to be done before you drive the car from the shop. Think about it, in business do you think you would be wise offering something for free if there wasn’t anything in it for you? Even if it is a vehicle safety check that takes half an hour at the most to complete.
The third tip I can give you is to be aware of what parts are being used on your vehicle and the markup that comes with those parts. Many workshops will insist on using genuine parts only, that is parts from the manufacturer of your particular vehicle. Unless your car is still under the factory warrantee there is no real reason not to use aftermarket parts when they are available. The aftermarket part is usually a lot cheaper and more often than not the warrantee on these parts equals or exceeds the genuine part warrantee anyway.
Spare part markup is another area where we can stand to save ourselves some money. When a mechanic buys a part there is a recommended retail price that goes with that part. However that is only a recommended price and if the dishonest mechanic can get away with charging more you can bet your life they will. Before agreeing to having the repair carried out ask your mechanic what markup they charge on their parts and if they are honest they will have no trouble answering your question.
So there you have just a few ways that we can help protect ourselves from car repair scams. I wish I could say that all workshop owners are honest but I can tell you hardly a day went by that we weren’t listening to customers complaining about the price and the service they received from certain mechanics. It is a shame that these people don’t realize that they are shooting themselves in the foot when ripping people off as the word soon gets around and as I said word of mouth is a very powerful advertising tool, both in a positive way and a negative way.